A Musical Ghost Story

The musical variety show The Grimaldis Are Dead spans generations of the titular family, all performers of one kind or another who also, in the words of writer/producer Dane Ballard, “all died grisly deaths.” It also straddles a variety of art forms, from theater to improv to magic to circus to what the company calls “theatre amuse-bouche” -- and most importantly, it's set to original music by John Woods, which both makes the different eras distinct and subtly ties the family together. But if the medium is manifold, the message, about the spirit all performers have, is clear. True performers, says Ballard, “give absolutely everything they have and still have something left to give.” The show follows an auction clerk (Matthew McCoy) who, glumly sorting through the Grimaldi estate, dreams of a life on the stage. He shows, as Ballard puts it, “how crippling it is” to have that performer’s soul “and not do anything with it.” Under the direction of Christian Utzman, the show doesn’t make audiences feel like they’re in a formal theater but, says Ballard, “like they’re in an auction house that’s haunted.” Staged in Firehouse 8, the new Nob Hill mixed retail/event space, the haunting feels all the spookier; a genuine former fire station (complete with a fireman’s pole), the building was closed for decades and only just reopened, to spectators and spectres alike.
Sat., Oct. 20, 7:45 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 26, 7:45 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 27, 7:45 p.m.; Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 7:45 p.m., 2012

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